by Bill Knell
Growing up in the suburbs of New York City in the 1960s was a pleasurable experience. Venturing into New York City, especially Manhattan, was not. The smell of car, truck and bus exhaust combined with a number of other foul vapors to produce a pollution mix that almost seemed toxic. If you were used to it, the city air was probably something that you were able to tolerate. However, to those who spent more time out of the city then in it, the air was filthy and made you sick.
By the late 1970s, the air quality in Manhattan and the other Boroughs improved substantially. There were a number of reasons for this including clean air initiatives and vehicle emission reductions. The city was also a much cleaner place. Concerns about pollution and living in a better environment caused people to clean up their neighborhoods. Dumping of materials into waterways was more tightly regulated or stopped altogether. Antiquated garbage and environmental facilities operated by New York City were updated or completely rebuilt. Anti-littering campaigns made us all think twice before throwing garbage on the street.
The cleaning up of New York City was not an isolated incident. Cities and towns throughout the United States became aware that a large part of their image and identity depended on how clean they were. However, this is not a new phenomenon. Whenever public health has been threatened by a lack of good environmental practices, there have been clean ups. Most large cities throughout the world have made sincere efforts to clean up their streets, waterways and neighborhoods. Municipal facilities that have to do with the environment have been updated.
As we began to take a closer look at the environment, it became obvious that good stewardship of our planet produced positive consequences. By replanting forests that were cut down, we insured a future supply of lumber and made sure that those areas were not impacted in a negative way. When limitations were placed on fishing in various areas, the future catch and survival of creatures necessary to those eco systems were guaranteed. Artificial products were combined with natural materials to produce superior textiles that were less expensive and eco friendly. The government limited the use of dangerous chemical pesticides which posed a threat to everything.
Despite all the positive results from a world of people who became more environmentally conscience, something went wrong. The movement to clean up the earth and be good eco stewards changed. It became a screaming protest against disturbing the world in any way. Things like logging, use of animals for food or clothes and drilling for oil were no longer going to be tolerated. Environmentalists wanted to put an end to human domination of the planet. The old enemy was large corporations that saved their bottom line at the cost of the cleanliness and safety of communities where they operated factories. The new enemy is us!
The environmental movement now insists that we leave the Earth alone. If we take them at their most radical, we should all just kill ourselves and make sure animals are around to eat what’s left of our decaying flesh. There’s just no other way to look at it. No matter where we try and cut trees, drill for oil, pump gas out of the ground or build homes, we are in the wrong.
There is a difference between being good stewards of our environment and abandoning it. People are here to stay and we all need places to live, ways to get around and things to eat. Learning from past mistakes, we now produce less pollution and live in a cleaner environment. We use items that place less of a strain on earth resources. We have even found ways to help save other living things that were disappearing on their own from our world. By cutting forests, we forestall inevitable fires, save wildlife and gain a needed source of lumber.
Green Extremists are not environmentalists. They are self-hating humans who feel we a plague on the planet. People have not always been wise in the way they have dealt with the environment, however they may also be the world’s best hope. Many scientists tell us that without people and the natural progression of their development, the world would fall into an environmental stalemate. If dinosaurs were around today, most people would do everything possible to save such rare and exotic animals from extinction.
Humans have always been fascinated with animals. President Teddy Roosevelt was a hunter, but he also saw the need to protect wild animals and the environment. He did this by creating refuges and special areas that were protected by the federal government against overuse or abuse by people. In short, Roosevelt was a sensible environmentalist. He helped create a way for humans, animals and nature to co-exist. Today’s extreme green fanatics could and should take a lesson from Teddy.
About the Author
Author: Bill Knell